Food hygiene and food technologies
Food hygiene and food technologies
Food hygiene is the conditions and measures necessary to ensure the safety of food from production to consumption. Food can become contaminated at any point during slaughtering or harvesting, processing, storage, distribution, transportation and preparation. Lack of adequate food hygiene can lead to food borne diseases and death of the consumer.
WHO assists Member States in promoting safe food handling through systematic disease prevention and health education programmes directed to food handlers, including the consumers.
Antimicrobial resistance in the food chain
Antimicrobial agents are essential drugs for protecting human and animal health. However, the continuing emergence, development and spread of pathogenic organisms that are resistant to antimicrobials constitute an increasing global concern.
Assessing chemical risks in food
Chemicals can end up in food either intentionally added for a technological purpose (e.g. food additives), or through environmental pollution of the air, water and soil. Chemicals in food are a worldwide health concern and are a leading cause of trade obstacles.
WHO develops scientific risk assessments to define safe exposure levels which form the basis for the development of national and international food safety standards to protect the health of the consumers and ensure fair trade practices.
Food borne diseases
Food borne diseases are caused by contamination of food and occur at any stage of the food production, delivery and consumption chain. They can result from several forms of environmental contamination including pollution in water, soil or air, as well as unsafe food storage and processing.
Food borne diseases encompass a wide range of illnesses from diarrhoea to cancers. Most present as gastrointestinal issues, though they can also produce neurological, gynaecological and immunological symptoms. Diseases causing diarrhoea are a major problem in all countries of the world, though the burden is carried disproportionately by low- and middle-income countries and by children under 5 years of age.
Beginning with Louis Pasteur's work with wine, modern food science and technology has made enormous contributions to the safety and availability of food. However, recent developments in the field have posed concerns, both real and perceived, about the safety of these technologies.
Assessing microbiological risks in food
The contamination of food by microbial agents is a worldwide public health concern. Most countries have documented significant increases in the incidence of diseases caused by microorganisms in food over the past few decades. Microbial hazards in food include bacteria such as Salmonella, viruses such as Norovirus, parasites such as trematodes as well as prions. Diarrhoeal diseases are the most common illnesses resulting from the consumption of contaminated food, causing 550 million people to fall ill and 230 000 deaths every year. In addition, diarrhoeal diseases may cause malnutrition and stunting, adding to the amount of Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) resulting from the consumption of contaminated food.
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